Cannabidiol (CBD) has become the hottest new product on the cannabis market, especially in the United States that have legalized marijuana (12 and counting). This non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping to treat a host of medical problems, everything from anxiety to epileptic seizures to inflammation to insomnia. But how much of this holds up, and can it be used for reliable pain management? To go over everything CBD and pain management, we spoke to Dr. Nikesh Seth, the CEO of Integrated Pain Consultants, and an expert on pain relief.
History of CBD
You might be surprised to learn that humans have been cultivating CBD as early as 4000 BCE. Early Chinese records show that hemp was a primary crop as far back as four thousand years ago. From the earliest primitive societies to the Qin and Han dynasties, ancient Chinese techniques of hemp sowing, cultivation and processing developed rapidly between these periods and became advanced. Dr. Nikesh Seth explains that cannabis and hemp come from the same plant, which is called the Cannabis sativa. However, the cultivation and use of the plant determine whether the plant is the colloquial cannabis (the type that gets you high), or more industrial hemp (which is used in textiles, rope, and paper).
The real research and understanding of CBD did not start until 1940 when American organic chemist Roger Adams isolated the CBD compound, however, he was not able to determine exactly what it was that he had isolated. In 1960, Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam isolated and described the chemical structure of CBD, which enabled chemists to confirm that CBD was indeed a non-psychoactive element of cannabis. Unfortunately, as the story goes, the fight for additional studies and testing on CBD were impeded due its status as an illegal substance, until recently. With greater flexibility and regulation, we are starting to develop a clearer picture of CBD and how it can be used for pain management.
What is CBD
Dr. Nikesh Seth explains that cannabidiol is one of the 104 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and causes the sensation of getting “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
How CBD is Used in Pain Management
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters.
A 2008 study assessed how well CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between the late 1980s and 2007. Based on these reviews, researchers concluded CBD was effective in overall pain management without adverse side effects. They also noted that CBD was beneficial in treating insomnia related to chronic pain. Dr. Nikesh Seth mentioned that a study in the European Journal of Pain was used an animal model to see if CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain. Researchers applied a topical gel containing CBD to rats with arthritis for 4 days. Their researchers note a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects.
Dr. Nikesh Seth concludes that CBD is an effective treatment for pain management and that if your state has legalized the use of CBD to talk to your medical professional to see if it would be a proper option.
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